AERA Holds Awards Celebration to Honor Exemplary Education Research
AERA Holds Awards Celebration to Honor Exemplary Education Research

December 2021

Co-hosts AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine and AERA President Na’ilah Suad Nasir
(ASL Interpreter in Bottom Left-Hand Corner)

On December 7, AERA held a Virtual Awards Celebration to honor recipients of the 2021 AERA-wide awards, giving attendees an inside look at their exemplary accomplishments across domains and career stages. The highly engaging celebration drew an audience of over 300 researchers, educational leaders, educators, and other viewers from 22 countries. Co-hosts AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine and AERA President Na’ilah Suad Nasir kicked off the celebration by welcoming the global audience.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize this amazing group of scholars for their remarkable achievements and to celebrate the many ways that the field of education research is serving society and making the world a better place,” said Levine.

“We are especially privileged to learn about exemplary work and to hear directly from the awardees about what inspires them, the challenges they have faced, and the advice they have for other aspiring researchers,” Nasir said.

Nasir introduced special speaker AERA Honorary President Edmund Gordon, who provided reflections about the importance of the education research endeavor and honoring exemplary lives of scholarship

AERA Honorary President Edmund Gordon
(ASL Interpreter in Bottom Left-Hand Corner)

Recounting a lesson taught to him by W.E.B. Dubois, Gordon said, “Our knowing and our understanding carry with them the responsibility that we act, that we try to do something about the problems of humanity and the problems of the universe. We thank these awardees for their use of all of their accomplishments to act for the greater good.”

Nasir and Levine then paid tribute to the more than 30 members of the education research community who died in the past year.

After the tribute, Nasir and Levine launched the award presentations. Each award winner was introduced by a video that used the recipient’s voice and highlighted their contributions to education research. After each video, Nasir and Levine engaged in live “backstage” conversation with the award winner.

Among those recognized were Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Carol D. Lee. (Learn about all the award recipients and watch the individual awardee videos on the Awards Celebration program page.)

Nikole Hannah-Jones
(ASL Interpreter in Bottom Left-Hand Corner)

During the conversations, the award winners shared their motivations, approaches to scholarship, and the lessons they have learned. They also expressed their gratitude to their nominators, award committees, and fellow researchers.

Bianca J. Baldridge, recipient of the Scholars of Color Early Career Contribution Award, advised scholars completing their doctorates and beginning their careers to “trust your work and find a community of scholars who support you and the nature of your work. I did not get here alone.”

Adam J. Alvarez, recipient of the Review of Research Award, noted, “I learned halfway through the process of working on my project that collaboration is really important and I wished I had done more of that. It’s also important to take hold of your ideas. They may not come to fruition right now, but they will resurface later when the time is right.”

In addition, award winners shared their thoughts on the importance of education research and future directions for scholarly inquiry.

“The work of education researchers continues to fuel our efforts to deliver high-quality, equitable education to students across the country,” said Scott, recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award. “Your work is especially important as we recover from COVID-19.”

 “Human learning is so fascinating and complex, and we still have only a minor slice of understanding of how complex human learning and development is,” said Lee, recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award. “I think the next stage of work in that area should be more collaborative across disciplines and methodological techniques to try to capture and understand that complexity.”

Levine and Nasir concluded the celebration by toasting the award winners and all those who attended the event.

“We thank those in education research, practice, and policy for continuing the effort to bring not only advancements in education but also to do so in equitable and inclusive ways,” said Levine.

Video of the event will be posted to the AERA website soon.

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